If there was any stand-out from Joe Hockey’s performance on Q&A it would have been his ability to permeate the studio with an overwhelming odor of wealthy complacency, with weasel words thrown in for good measure.
It was with considerable smugness that Joe Hockey admitted that the GP co-payment, “. . .is a new tax – or a rabbit.”
“We didn’t say we wouldn’t raise any taxes. That’s absurd because we went to the last election promising to introduce a levy for the paid parental leave scheme“, Mr Hockey said.
Tony Abbott’s original argument was that this addition to upper class welfare, and ‘signature policy’, was the insistence that the PPL was not a tax; it was a levy. However, and currently in vogue and up until Hockey’s appearance on Q&A, all was but a mere levy and not a tax. The consequences of Hockey’s statement, is that according to himself, both he and Prime Minister Abbott made deliberately misleading statements, and on numerous occasions.
That is, “We did say we wouldn’t raise any taxes…”, (because) the PPL levy is in fact a tax.
It seems that the words ‘tax’ and ‘levy’ are bandied about by the Liberal Party, changed at whim and to which ever circumstances suit. Those who voted Liberal on the premise that Abbott would get rid of Labor’s “great big new tax” must be bitterly disappointed as we now have an even bigger, great big new tax … or series of them.
However, should we care to address the practicalities of this issue, there is a world of difference between a PPL with a proposal that this be paid by “a 1.5% levy on the biggest companies” and a $7 GP co-payment taxed on GP visits, pathology and X-rays, and which would further distort access to medical treatment for those on the lowest incomes. This is akin to stating that the economic impact of the cost of two beers to an old age pensioner has an equivalent impact as on a business entity, and an extraordinarily wealthy one at that. Abbott and Hockey’s insistence that they be ‘right’ – and all of the time, often leaves logic in its wake.
In Abbott and Hockey-world, business being business and poor people being poor people, it will of course be business who will be compensated for the PPL tax/levy by receiving an equivalent tax cut of 1.5%. Might there be any equivalent breaks for those having to fork out for Hockey’s other tax – the GP co-payment? No of course not. Hockey’s proposition that the PPL tax/levy is therefore equivalent to the GP co-payment therefore falls so flat as to not only be just an illusion, but could be counted as a blatant attempt at deception.
On the debt levy, will the the richest 3%’s contribution/levy likewise put unreasonable pressure on anyone’s ability to feed, clothe and house themselves? Doubtful, unto too ridiculous to contemplate. The Liberals have gone to great lengths to ensure the wealthiest that this is a very temporary tax hike. And what would it matter anyway? . . . this cigar and Moët et Chandon tax will be easily be absorbed through multifarious untaxed lurks – “superannuation concessions, dividend imputation, negative gearing and family trusts.” Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have now successfully reinforced the image that to themselves and most of the front bench, that the obscenely wealthy remain as they always have been, The Untouchables.
You can be assured that these changes (with the exception of the debt tax) are not just for a couple of years, but forever. Along with this decimation lurks in the background cuts to science, Aboriginal health and education, with extreme pressure on the states to privatise almost everything. And all the while the reaction from both Abbott and Hockey is smirking disregard. Abbott “Dismisses concerns”, the headlines read and this is apart from the lewd wink aimed at a pensioner forced into working on a sex-line as the only thing available to her. Any empathy? Any sympathy?
However, most perplexing was the ‘carrot’ offered by Hockey in the form of medical research. That is, suffer now and one day if we splash enough cash at the problem so that ‘we’, and where all other countries have failed, will by some act of divine providence cure the world of all of it’s ailments.
Today (17th December, 2013), Treasurer Joe Hockey cut:
• $100 million in funding for Westmead Hospital
• $10 million from the Children’s Medical Research Institute and $12 million from the Millennium Institute – one of the largest medical research institutes in Australia working on cancer and leukaemia research, heart disease, eye and brain disease and heart and respiratory disorders.
• $15.1 million from the life-saving Cancer Care Coordinators program. Despite knowing that Australians in regional areas have a lower life expectancy and find it more difficult to access life-saving treatment the Government has decided to cut this funding.
• $6 million for Medical Resonance Imaging service at Mt Druitt, the cutting of the $10 million life-saving Queensland Cancer Package, $15 million from the Flinders Neo-Natal Unit, the $10 million Western Australia cancer team, and the $50 million stroke package.
• $3.5 million from the Biala Health Service, the only free sexual-health clinic in Brisbane.
• The Coalition will scrap the $100 million committed for the redevelopment of the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.
It seems that the Abbott Government taketh with one hand to return ‘who knows what’ at some unspecified time in the future. Why would anyone cut funding from medical research into things such as cancer and childhood leukaemia, only to siphon it off to be paid to ‘who knows who’ at some non-specific time in the future? The cynic in me asks the question, who is set to gain from this? Which multi-national benefactor might it be? I believe that there are certain hints and clues provided by certain photos of Tony Abbott and his ‘sponsor’.
The Liberal Party’s own website provides that the projected $20 billion will not be achieved until around 2024-2025. “To establish the Fund, approximately $1 billion in uncommitted funds from the existing Health and Hospitals Fund will be transferred into the Fund at its inception”, which is supposed to be 2015-2016. But wait a moment; hasn’t the Abbott Government already cut an (estimated) half billion dollars from existing medical research and services? Hockey’s gushing at the government’s beneficence and commitment to human-kind suddenly loses it’s rosy bloom.
But don’t worry, there is some good news contained in Joe Hockey’s attempt at a budget: there will be more roads – well, in the cities at least.
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